7 Smart Ideas on Customizing a WordPress Theme

May 17, 2021
Christopher Jan Benitez

Many people are looking for ways to customize their WordPress theme and make it their own. The problem is that it’s not always clear where to begin!

In this article, we’re going to show you seven smart ideas on customizing a WordPress theme. No matter your skill level, you’ll find a couple of useful tips that will help you personalize your site’s look and feel.

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1. Add your logo to the header

A logo is vital to your brand. Displaying your logo across all online profiles — your website included — allows you to stay consistent with your positioning. This way, your audience will recognize and remember your brand regardless of the platform.

Needless to say, brand recognition leads to trust, which is a critical component of money-making blogs out there.

Many WordPress themes have options for adding a logo. You can find where to add your logo in the theme’s options panel or under design settings. Some themes even allow you to upload both an image and text as your logo!

Most premium themes like GeneratePress allow you to change your logo by customizing the theme and editing its site identity.

adding logo from  GeneratePress

If you don’t have a logo design yet, it’s high time you invested in one.

You could create your design using different graphic design software. However, it’s best to hire a professional designer to create your brand guidelines. Consider that the logo will help separate your brand from the rest of your competitors, so make it count!

2. Customize the color scheme of your theme

Along with your brand, you need to customize the colors that visitors will see on your WordPress site. Different elements need different color treatment, but these three are the ones you must consider the most: the text, links, and background.

Ideally, the text and background should have contrasting colors so visitors can read your site’s content. If they are the same color, the copy won’t be legible!

Most sites have black text on white background, although it’s also possible to have it the other way around.

Diverging from the typical black and white color scheme is a rare occurrence on the web. If possible, monitor your site’s performance after making these changes to know if they produced better retention and engagement.

It stands to reason that the link needs to stand out from the primary color of the text. This way, people know it’s a link that will take them to a different resource.

So, if you’re in the process of choosing your brand colors, consider the triad color scheme.

selecting color scheme

This palette is made up of three colors that are evenly spaced on the color wheel.

One example would be red, yellow, and blue. It doesn’t matter which one you pick as long as it’s within this scale!

Typically, three dominating colors representing your brand are more than enough for your website. But if you decide to use more colors, make sure that they follow a color scheme to ensure they compliment one another instead of clashing.

Most of the changes that you can make to your WordPress site depend on your choice of theme. Most premium themes allow you to customize without having to install extra plugins or knowing how to code.

customize theme without plugin

3. Use Google Fonts

Changing the font of your site is mostly a personal choice.

On the one hand, people want to stand out by using distinct fonts. On the other, using a clean, familiar, and (most importantly) readable font makes it more likely for your site visitors to stick around.

More importantly, using fonts that load across various browsers increases the site’s loading speed. This has become a bigger issue ever since Google’s Core Web Vitals sterted to count the time spent reading the copy.

Regardless of your decision, having an option to switch things up is an advantage.

So, in case you’re looking for some change, Google Fonts are at your disposal! It is a free service, so there’s no cost to use it. Plus, they have all these different font faces that can match any style requirements. If you’re not sure which font would suit your site better, you can always opt for something easy to read.

using Google Fonts

Again, premium themes make choosing Google Fonts a lot easier. You can select the font for each element on your site (headers, body, widgets, etc.) and edit its variations, font size, height, and more.

If your theme doesn’t offer this option, you can download the free Google Fonts plugin, which adds the Typography functionality on your customization page.

As mentioned, loading Google Fonts on your site takes longer than it does typical fonts like Sans serif and others. However, if your site is optimized for speed, there shouldn’t be a problem. There are several praised web hosting providers for your WordPress site.

4. Feature recent posts or popular content

If you’re a publisher, you want to drive as much traffic as possible to all of your content pieces, including articles, videos, or images.

One way to do this is to feature the most popular content on the homepage or in a sidebar.

For example, if you’re a fashion blogger and you’ve made photo collages for each of your posts in the past, then it would be great to show some snapshots from those photos here. This section can also work as an introductory page that shares some tips or tells readers what they should expect from your site.

Featuring your top content could be as simple as numbering all your posts, filtering your articles, or offering to display the most recently published pieces.

You can also filter content based on its popularity, such as views and shares.

The features you can include in this section depend on the theme or plugin you’re be using. There are restrictions or compatibility issues between certain plugins and themes that prevent you from showcasing your best content the way you want it to. Thus, make sure that the plugin you’re using for this purpose is compatible with your theme.

Among the best is the Contextual Related Posts plugin. Judging by its name, the plug in allows to display related content based on the previously visited pages.

Contextual Related Posts plugin

Keep in mind that this plugin may slow down your site’s loading speed. The plugin pulls out content from different tags and categories and generates them dynamically on each page.

One way to increase the loading time is by optimizing the image thumbnails of the posts.

5. Add social media icons to the footer

Aside from connecting with your audience through a website, you want to cast your net wide and talk to them on social media.

For example, if a website visitor is more active on Twitter, displaying a link to your Twitter profile or embedding your feed is a good way to keep in touch with this prospect.

By adding links to different social media profiles in the footer, you’re letting visitors know that this website has an active presence on other channels.

Make sure your brand is present on those social media channels that are actively used by your target audience. This way, you only focus your energies on a handful of channels instead of spreading yourself too thin.

There is a number of free plugins to help you showcase your social media links.

Take Social Icons Widget & Block by WPZOOM, for example.

adding social media icons using Social Icons Widget & Block by WPZOOM

You can add links to your social media profiles in the main body of the page, as a part of a widget, or in the footer.

6. Create a custom 404 page

A 404 page is a page that visitors see when they click a broken link. This page could have been deleted or the link could have been changed. Also, there may have been a typo in the link, although the actual page exists.

There are different ways you can deal with this. The first is to redirect visitors to a valid page. Another way is to edit your 404 pages. Most 404 pages simply inform visitors that the page doesn’t exist and encourages them to go back to the homepage. While there’s nothing wrong with this type of 404 page, it also offers some valuable digital real estate. That means you can optimize the page to show more than what they saw before.

By adding more content here, you discourage visitors from leaving your site and getting them to visit other relevant pages on your website they might be interested in instead.

The 404page plugin allows you to determine which page you want visitors to land on if the link they clicked on doesn’t exist.

sample custom 404 page

You will have to create a page on your site first, and then start using the plugin.

When creating the page, consider adding the following:

  • Links to your best pages.
  • A list of free downloadable resources.
  • A form that visitors can fill out to subscribe to your newsletter.

The goal here is to keep them from leaving your site. Use the 404 page as an opportunity to engage with your prospects and turn them into returning visitors.

7. Create high-converting landing pages

If you wish to scale your website, add more pages that has potential to help you grow your site.

You don’t just want visitors to check out your content and then leave for good. You want to come up with ways for them to come back to your website for more, if not convert them into paying clients.

Also known as landing pages, they contain compelling content that will encourage them to perform their desired action.

Here are some examples of how you can get this done:

  • Include testimonials from satisfied customers.
  • Feature a sign-up form inviting visitors to subscribe to your newsletter or join a webinar.
  • Write a convincing web copy with an actionable CTA above the fold.

What you will include in this part depends on your business goals. However, building and designing your pages should be taken seriously.

While creating professionally designed landing pages may seem intimidating to newbies, using landing page or Gutenberg blocks plugins should make the job less stressful.  

For landing pages, you can’t go wrong with Elementor. It’s one of the most popular landing page builders for WordPress.

It has a free version that gives you the freedom to create pages on your site with no restrictions posed by your website theme. It makes your WordPress feel like an easy-to-use website builder, which is a good thing!

If you want a more native solution, use WordPress’s Gutenberg editor out of the box. Similar to Elementor, you can create beautiful pages by simply dragging and dropping blocks on the page.

WordPress’s Gutenberg editor

The caveat here is that you must download plugins that offer functional blocks for building pages on your site. Some of the best free ones include Ultimate Blocks, Genesis Blocks, and Ultimate Add-Ons Block.

And to help you create your landing pages, you can always refer to the best practices for inspiration and ideas.

Interestingly, website designers tend to include landing page development as part of their professional portfolio. However, with plugins like the ones above, who needs designers if you have the opportunity to create them yourself?

Conclusion

As you can see, customizing your WordPress is no rocket science. As long as the changes you make align with your business goals, you’re on the right track

However, before implementing any of these suggestions to your WordPress theme, make sure to have a site backup in place should things diverge from the original plan. Using a WordPress reset plugin allows you to make changes in confidence, knowing that you can restore its previous settings.

Now, if you think that making those edits completes your work, think again!

You may want to know what your audience thinks of the changes you made on your site. Ask your audience for feedback by using a survey form. Include a few questions about how they feel about the tweaks and if they have any suggestions.

This way, you’ll know the hard work you put into this project has been welcomed by your site visitors, and that you are on the right track.

Christopher Jan Benitez
Christopher Jan Benitez is a freelance writer for hire who specializes in the digital marketing field. His work has been published on SEO and affiliate marketing-specific niches like Monitor Backlinks, Niche Pursuits, Web Hosting Secret Revealed, and others.

About the Author

Christopher Jan Benitez
Christopher Jan Benitez is a freelance writer for hire who specializes in the digital marketing field. His work has been published on SEO and affiliate marketing-specific niches like Monitor Backlinks, Niche Pursuits, Web Hosting Secret Revealed, and others.